Archive Home arrow Reviews: arrow Storage arrow Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid Drive
Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid Drive E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage
Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 24 May 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid Drive
Features and Specifications
First Look: Seagate Momentus-XT
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
Real-World Performance
HDD vs Hybrid Drive vs SSD
Seagate Momentus-XT Conclusion

Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid Drive Review

The Hard Disk Drive (HDD) has enjoyed a long service life in the computer industry, and only recently has the Solid State Drive (SSD) threatened to replace it. While the HDD offers higher capacity at a better price, SSDs offer tremendous speeds and operational performance. Finally, Seagate has achieved the optimal blend of each, and presents the Solid State-Hybrid Hard Drive. Seagate's Momentus-XT hybrid uses a 7200-RPM hard drive fused with 4GB SLC NAND flash to deliver SSD speeds and HDD storage capacity. Seagate's Adaptive Memory technology uses an algorithm to monitor user data access transactions, which caches qualified data onto the SSD. In this article, Benchmark Reviews tests the 500GB Seagate Momentus-XT ST95005620AS Solid State Hybrid Drive against several of the fastest notebook storage devices available.

When SSD storage devices first arrived to market, hardware review websites (such as Benchmark Reviews) worked past a period of understanding the new technology. Testing SSDs required more understanding than HDD tests, and operational performance was vastly more relevant than transfer speeds. Seagate is about to usher in another transitional period, because their SSD-Hybrid relies on an Adaptive Memory algorithm that works by identifying patterns in how often certain digital data is used. So while the name is Solid State Hybrid Drive, the product is really a 'smart' HDD with a large memory buffer.

For this purpose, our usually collection of benchmark test metrics won't paint an accurate picture. ATTO and Iometer will offer traditional measurements, but these performance readings will ignore Seagate's Adaptive Memory algorithm that improves the operation of accessing these programs and not the benchmark results. Repetitive processes will benefit from SSD-like performance, but one-time file transfers and initial application access will be handled by the enhanced hard drive. In addition to traditional HDD/SSD benchmark tests, the Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid will be used for real-world tasks and compared against the competition.

Seagate_Momentus-XT_Solid-State-Hybrid_Review.jpg

For decades, the slowest component in any computer system was the hard drive. Most modern processors operate within approximately 1-ns (nanosecond = one billionth of one second) response time, while system memory responds between 30-90 ns. Traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD) technology utilizes magnetic spinning media, and even the fastest spinning desktop storage products exhibit a 9,000,000 ns - or 9 ms (millisecond = one thousandth of one second) initial response time. In more relevant terms, The processor receives the command and waits for system memory to fetch related data from the storage drive. This is why any computer system is only as fast as the slowest component in the data chain; which is usually the hard drive.

The theoretical goal for achieving optimal performance is for system memory to operate as quickly as the central processor, and the storage drive to operate as fast as memory. With present technology this is an impossible task, so enthusiasts try to close the speed gaps between components as much as possible. Although system memory is up to 90x (9000%) slower than most processors, just consider that the hard drive is an added 1000x (100,000%) slower than that same memory. Essentially, these three components are as different in speed as walking is to driving and flying.

Solid State Drive technology bridges the largest gap. The difference a SSD makes to operational reaction times and program speeds is dramatic, and takes the storage drive from a slow 'walking' speed to a much faster 'driving' speed. Solid State Drive technology improves initial response times by more than 450x (45,000%) for applications and Operating System software, when compared to their HDD counterparts.

About Seagate Technology LLC.Seagate-Logo-250px.png

Seagate is the worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of hard disk drives and storage solutions, providing products for a wide-range of applications, including Enterprise, Desktop, Mobile Computing, Consumer Electronics and Branded Solutions. Seagate's business model leverages technology leadership and world-class manufacturing to deliver industry-leading innovation and quality to its global customers, with the goal of being the time-to-market leader in all markets in which it participates. The company is committed to providing award-winning products, customer support and reliability to meet the world's growing demand for information storage. Seagate can be found around the globe and at http://www.seagate.com/.



 

Comments 

 
# Thanks again for the exceptional reviewK Gregory 2010-05-24 15:44
Very complete, and the forward 'honesty' is welcomed. I still have some skepticism about the product. I think Seagate 'skimped' on technology that could have been included in order to 'milk' cash that this product line/type can bring in as far as possible.

However, I'll look to see a true 'desktop' release hybrid configuration to confirm or unseat my skepticism. 6Gb/s interface, 64MB cache, 10k speed, Nand that offers both read and write benefits and perhaps even dual porting -now that the 6Gb/s interface offers the signal strength to meet such a feature without too many issues.

Time will tell. Again great review.
Report Comment
 
 
# A Mistake!Rahul 2010-05-24 17:44
According to marketing I think that Seagate Adaptive Technology focused ONLY on Real World Uses and not BENCHMARKS. So, I think the 1st and 2nd Con should not have been put here.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: A Mistake!Olin Coles 2010-05-24 18:25
As I mentioned several times throughout the article, the Adaptive Memory technology does not apply to all benchmarks (it does apply to some). I suggest that you re-read the article, since you've missed several points I've made.
Report Comment
 
 
# MicrokingRyan 2010-05-24 22:34
Would like to know more about these hybrids?

1.) Can you defrag them? Do you need a special tool? Can you damage the SSD portion by defragmenting the drive?

2.) What about Raiding these drives? Is is possible and what should be concerned with? Can you defrag them Raided?

3.)Special drivers? Does the OS matter with regard to performance?

I wonder how these would perform in a server environment raided?
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: MicrokingOlin Coles 2010-05-25 06:59
Consumers should consider these drives as standard hard disks, with the ability to cache the most-used applications into the SSD portion. You can/should defragment this drive, because all of the data is written to the hard disk and not the SSD. There are no special drivers needed or used.

As for RAID, we only received the single unit. I don't wish to speculate on how the Momentus XT would perform in RAID without more experience witht he product.
Report Comment
 
 
# RaidAdam Postma 2010-05-26 08:44
@ Ryan
I read a different review and RAID is definitely possible and brings the performance even closer to SSD levels. Because they are just normal Hard Drives to the operating system, you can do anything with them that you can with a ordinary Hard Drive.

Defragging won't damage the SSD portion, but in case something does damage the SSD portion seagate said your drive should still operate as an ordinary hard drive.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid DriveDual 2010-06-25 00:29
"Each cloned drive was restarted three times prior to testing (Seagate Momentus-XT received five restarts to ensure Adaptive Memory would utilize SSD functionality)": doesn't this point to a potential problem in that real-world use of a drive involves a constantly-changing array of tasks? I only reboot my CPU (Mac) about every two weeks or so. The hybrid can't be expected to 'memorize' launch data for the scores of apps I use, or the other tasks a hybrid can potentially accelerate.

If 'learning' is so important for these drives, that fact must have a significant impact on dynamic, real-world performance.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: RE: Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid DriveOlin Coles 2010-06-25 19:42
If you want immediate gratification without a learning curve, there's a solution called the SSD. It's more expensive and has much less capacity, but it's faster every time. For everyone else who needs storage capacity and is willing to wait for the second or third time a program is accessed for it to be 'learned and cached', the hybrid SSD is ideal.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: RE: RE: Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid DriveDual 2010-06-28 01:18
Thanks Assuming you're not being snarky, yes I know about SSD's. The reason for my comment was twofold: AFAIK (I do have a problem with skimming at times) the performance hit caused by the learning curve is not discussed in the review, and neither is the cache depth a hybrid drive has to support multiple applications and tasks (in other words: having launched app X 5 times to teach the drive, how long before that information is wiped by other activity?)

Extrapolating from the article, and perhaps in error, it seems to me that a hybrid drive best might support a user who engages in repetitive work, and that someone with a more varied approach to his computer and work life would not see much benefit from a hybrid. Even having to consider factors like this when considering a storage device is NEW, and I feel deserves some discussion.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: RE: RE: RE: Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid DriveOlin Coles 2010-06-28 06:50
I'm also curious as to how much 'learned' information is stored on the drive. It's got a 4GB SSD buffer, so I imagine that up to 4GB of program files (whatever files are used to operate the application) can be stored before a lesser-used program is removed.
Report Comment
 
 
# 500g Momentus xtDallas Michaels 2011-01-18 10:20
I picked one up for my qosmio x305 q705 laptop. I read a few articals on the tech behind this drive but yours has been the most informative. My guess was that the 4g of ssd would be used for cache, my hope was that the user could define how to use that part of the drive. I would think that using two thirds of it as a ssd paging file and the rest as shared video memory for the TurboCache tech that is used by the 9700m video solution would give a nice boost to performance. But I have not found a way to partition that part of the drive or if it is possible or plausible. Like I stated earlier I didn't really understand the drives tech untile I read your srtical.
Report Comment
 
 
# Why IOMeter only test 120 secondsAndy 2010-06-29 08:43
Does anyone konw why IOMeter test only test 120 seconds?
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: Why IOMeter only test 120 secondsOlin Coles 2010-06-29 08:45
You can set it for as long as you want, but SSD results will usually be the same.
Report Comment
 
 
# We need more reviews like this.Sil 2010-06-30 01:33
Great Article, well done.
Report Comment
 
 
# A classic Seagate move..... sucker in the people who know just enough to be DangerousBigSteve 2010-07-08 17:38
I don't think Seagate REALLY gets it (or at least their marking dept). The whole idea of SSDs is not JUST about the speed, but also reliability (like NO MOVING PARTS, Seagate's problem area), AS WELL AS less power & heat. This abomination (IMHO) of an SSD, is like calling a jet powered car a "space shuttle hybrid".
It's a souped-up HDD, but still ONLY a HDD!
Ever wonder why Seagate offers such long warranties (5 yrs on new drives) and still so cheap???
It's ALL marketing due to their LONG history of making CRAP. And then they went out and bought up other companies (like Maxtor) that actually had quality products and messed up their stuff.
Over the years (almost 20 now), I have had more Seagate failures than ALL OTHERS COMBINED (even the newer drives, that I couldn't talk people out of).
In short, I wouldn't buy (and recommend against) Seagate's REAL SSDs as they will LIKELY be the 1st SSDs to FAIL (IMHO)
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: A classic Seagate move..... sucker in the people who know just enough to be DangerousOlin Coles 2010-07-08 17:42
I think you've got some misplaced anger there. For nearly the same price as a 2.5" notebook hard drive, people can improve their performance and retain large storage capacities. I'm a huge proponent of SSDs, but I'm not so in love with the technology that I can't see it's shortcomings.
Report Comment
 
 
# All About ExpectationsChuck from Columbus 2010-07-26 07:37
I have had one of these drives in a Sony Vaio laptop for over a month and I am as pleased as I can be. I think part of the reason is because I think of it as an HDD rather than an SSD. Don't compare it to SSDs because that isn't what it is
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid DriveSnappy 2010-09-09 18:45
Solid State Drive = Massive SD Card

If you plan to not use it as a primary HDD for any OS the SSD has tons of uses, mainly being a cheap expanded SD card for storage of your grandmas photos.

Nothing beats solid hilarity :)
Report Comment
 
 
# NANDET 2011-10-12 16:15
Just wondering if you added DMA into the equation here ? I am sure you did, but in windows 7 and vista, the os has been known to disable SETMAX for DMA, and set it back to PIO - mode. This occurs supposedly because of a certain amount of read/write errors. When I have restarted my system though, it is enabled again. Wouldn't this have some effect on your testing ? There is a big difference between UDMA mode 6(ata -133) and DMA mode 0(ata -33). Also, correcting this I have peaked at 120 MB/s transferring a 1,47 GB .mkv file from my laptop to a seagate 5400 rpm 8 MB cache 2.5" internal harddisk in an external enclosure, which seems to defy all your benchmark testing.....
I do not know too much about harddisks, but I seem to be coming up with better results than prof. tests show - all the time.
Report Comment
 
 
# BIOS SettingsWayne Bish 2011-11-03 09:26
SHould the Momentus XT be set to AHCI or IDE?
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: BIOS SettingsOlin Coles 2011-11-03 09:37
If you're installing the Operating System for the first time, I would suggest AHCI mode. If you've already got an OS installed, sometimes switching from IDE to AHCI will cause crashes because the driver was not initially installed. It doesn't hurt to switch it over to AHCI, and just switch it back to IDE if that causes crashes.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: RE: BIOS SettingsWayne Bish 2011-11-03 10:31
Thanks for your response. Was just trying to find out which has better overall performance.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: RE: RE: BIOS SettingsOlin Coles 2011-11-03 11:01
See here: benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=505
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: RE: RE: RE: BIOS SettingsWayne Bish 2011-11-03 12:05
Thanks for the link (and further clarification/information). I just added a Crucial C300. Have had one plaguing problem; system won't power down. After clicking the "shut-down" button, windows goes through the normal process and shuts down, but the fans are still spinning and power is still on. Any thoughts on how to fix? Thanks for your help.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE:SSD is as reliable as HddJOhnDekker 2012-09-16 06:54
##zdnet.com/blog/storage/ssds-no-more-reliable-than-hard-drives/1483

you can do a search, SSD can be as reliable as HDD
Report Comment
 

Comments have been disabled by the administrator.

Search Benchmark Reviews
QNAP Network Storage Servers

Follow Benchmark Reviews on FacebookReceive Tweets from Benchmark Reviews on Twitter